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Special Interview - Han Bok-Ryeo, Master of Korean Royal Cuisine

2009/12/07 | 1411 views | Permalink | Source

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Institute of Korean Royal Cusine Offers Cooking Class
By Hannah Watson
Staff Writer

If you have ever drooled over the culinary delights in the hit Korean drama "Dae Jang Geum" ("Jewel in the Palace") you may have wondered how you could recreate those mouth-watering royal dishes that feature so prominently in the show.

Well, now you can. The Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine currently offers foreigners a participation programme to promote Korea's royal cuisine.

Han Bok-Ryeo, president of the institute, has played a vital role in spreading the word about the royal cuisine.

Speaking to her through a translator, I found out about her eagerness for people to learn about the importance food plays in Korean culture and what makes Korean royal cuisine so special.

"We live in a world of globalization and people need to make harmony with others and make a good combination", said President Han Bok-Ryeo.

"Food is a good way to understand other cultures, which is why we show Korean cooking".

The cookery classes are taught in English and students are given the chance to make a variety of dishes typical of the cuisine from the Joseon Dynasty.

President Han said: "Our menu changes with the seasons. We have a spring/summer menu and a fall/ winter menu. We have selected a range of Korean foods so they can learn to prepare these different things".

"Korean food plays over a huge part in Korean tradition. People don't realize how important our food is in everyday life". She added.

Royal cuisine was very important in Joseon period as it helped the King to understand the lives of his people and the seasonal condition through the food he was eating.

Mr. Nathaniel Gleicher, and his wife Mrs. Gleicher in class

Food from the Joseon period is seen as the most lavish and decadent throughout Korea's history.

"People just know Korean royal cuisine as the best food in Korea", the president said, "but they don't realize how important it is. Not only is it our food but it is part of our culture".

Students on the programme are also helped to understand the theory behind Korean food.

"Korean food has a special meaning", she said, "if you eat well you can get good health.

"Korean food also has five elements to it: sour, bitter, salty, sweet and spicy. They must be balanced. People can experience all five of these tastes in one food like kimchi, this makes Korean food very special".

And the classes seem to be a big hit with the students.

Patricia Wong has attended the full course of lessons. She said: "It's a very rare opportunity for people to learn about Korean food.

"It's a real honour as we learn in a few days what it would have taken trainee chefs in the Joseon period 15 years to learn".

Nathaniel Gleicher, another student, was treated to the classes as a wedding present from his wife.

"It's great". He said "I've been coming for three weeks. It's different and challenging, we're learning lots of tastes, ingredients and techniques that are completely new to us".

"I'm really enjoying making these dumplings today". he added.

The Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine was established when Korean royal cuisine was designated Intangible Cultural Property Number 38 in 1971.

Now the institute is involved in a variety of activities to show the rest of the world just how good the royal cuisine is.

"We have been involved in several events with the EU where we have shown the world Korean royal cuisine". said the president.

"Last year some high school students from America came to stay with us and learnt how to cook Korean food".

"Dae Jang Geum" ("Jewel in the Palace") has definitely helped popularize the Royal Cuisine and President Han played a role in supervising the food portrayed in the show.

"It was a great chance for people to learn about Korean royal cuisine. Japanese people still even visit to learn about the food that they have seen in the TV show. If we got another chance to do this we would, it was a great experience". she said.

For more information visit about the Institute of Korean royal cuisine and the cookery classes visit or call PR manager of the institute, Ms. Lee Eun-Kyung at 3673-1122-3.
Ms. Han Bok-Ryeo, president of the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine, poses for camera prior to interview.

Hannah Watson serves as staff writer for The Seoul Times. She graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2007 with a BA Hons in Politics. While at University she worked as a PR influencer and a writer for Virgin Music. After graduation she advanced to the public relations before gaining an (NCTJ) National Council for the Training of Journalists qualification in Print Journalism. She worked at two local newspapers in Merseyside.

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